Protests erupt in St. Louis after ex-cop acquitted in black motorist's death
© Getty Images

Protesters took to the streets of St. Louis on Friday after a white former police officer was acquitted of murder charges in the shooting of black man.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) put the state's National Guard on standby on Thursday in anticipation of potential protests after the verdict was announced. In a statement Friday, Greitens urged protesters to remain peaceful.

"I'm committed to protecting everyone's constitutional right to protest peacefully, while also protecting people's lives, homes, and communities," he said. "For anyone who protests, please do so peacefully.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley had been charged with murder after he shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith after a car chase in 2011. Prosecutors also accused Stockley of planting a gun in Smith's vehicle.

According a probable cause statement, Stockley said during the pursuit that he was “going to kill this motherf***er, don’t you know it." After Smith was stopped, Stockley walked up to the driver's side window of the car and fired five shots at the man. 

Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted Stockley on Friday, writing in his decision that prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley did not act in self-defense.

After the verdict was announced, protesters streamed into downtown St. Louis, where they chanted, waved signs and blocked off traffic in a show of disappointment and outrage.

Thirteen people were arrested during the protests in downtown St. Louis, CNN reported.

Video posted to social media showed police officers in riot gear responding to the demonstrations. Other reports said that police had used pepper spray on protesters.

Police said that protesters had thrown rocks and water bottles during the protests, but that officers had "used great restraint."